Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Thinking Man's Guide to Finding Your WITB - Part i

I often get asked clubfitting questions and what clubs I recommend and such. I also get asked about my current bag and what I’m gaming. So in this series, I wanted to go over step-by-step, my bag and its specs and why I chose it that way.

First, I’ll start off with the driver. Here’s the current specs of the driver:

Wishon 919THI
10° Loft
57.5° Lie Angle
45-1/8” long
UST VTS Silver 65 shaft (X-Stiff)
321 gram static weight
D-3 swingweight
2,825 kg/cm2 MOI



The Clubhead (Wishon 919THI)

Even though I sell Wishon equipment, I do feel there are plenty of quality OEM clubheads out there. The problem I see with the OEM equipment is for the most part, they really don’t provide an advantage of one head over the other. It becomes more about personal preference and the way the club looks and feels versus actual performance and engineering advantages. A golfer may want to find a driver head with a higher or lower Center of Gravity in order to launch the ball better, but that just suits their swing more than having an actual engineered advantage.

Where I feel the 919THI driver head has an advantage is:

- Highest club*head* MOI on the market
- Graduated Roll Technology

We’ve discussed this is previous blog posts. But, the sweetspot is NOT an area on the face like this diagram infers:


The sweetspot is actually about the size of a needle point. The ‘area’ that is often misinterpreted as the ‘sweetspot’ is actually the part of the clubface that has the highest MOI. Meaning that when you hit a shot off-center, the clubhead will twist less in those areas with the highest MOI. The Wishon 919THI has a MOI of 5,000+ g-cm2. Now, there have been drivers with that high of a MOI, but they had that radical box shape which the Wishon 919THI does not have.

I do think there is an advantage in ‘Graduated Roll Technology.’ That means that for the most part, the loft on the clubface will be just about the same throughout the entire face. Here’s a diagram showing the difference between a club with GRT and without GRT.


So, where is the advantage?

I think the main advantage comes from shots that are hit below the sweetspot. I can hit these shots further than with the OEM clubs because the loft angle is the same instead of having a lower loft angle which reduces the distance. The difference probably isn’t that much on shots hit above the sweetspot as even with GRT, the loft does increase a little as you get near the top of the clubface.

The other advantage is that I can hit this quite well and easily off the deck. I think that’s an advantage very few golfers have at their exposal because they don’t generate enough clubhead speed (115+ mph) in order to get a non-GRT driver to get enough air time. I try to only hit the driver off the deck if I have no worse than a decent lie, so thin or downhill lies are just about out of the equation. But, I can still hit off most of the lies and do it with pretty good control. Off the tee I’m probably hitting it 290-300 yards, off the deck, 265-280 yards.

LOFT AND LIE ANGLE (10° & 57.5°)

The loft is actually much more important to fit for than the lie angle. First, we have to understand that there is no ‘hot spot’ on the driver that is near the top of the clubface and towards the toe. The real hot spot is the sweetspot. I agree with Wishon on this point, I think golfers wind up playing with too low of a lot and then to counter that, they hit the ball too high up on the clubface. It’s perfectly fine to hit up on the driver, just hit up on the driver while hitting the sweetspot.

With loft, you want to base that upon your clubhead speed first, THEN your attack angle. And in reality, if your attack angle is not steeper than -2° or more upward than +2°, than it will have minimal effect on the amount of loft that is optimal for your golf swing.

I think the problem golfers struggle with is that they should first look to fit a driver buy finding what they can to optimize DISTANCE. Once they find the optimal distance, then they can go to finding optimal accuracy and consistency.

But, I think you find optimal distance by optimizing the launch and carry conditions FIRST, then worry about spin rate and roll. Too many golfers do it backwards, worrying about spin rate before worrying on the launch conditions.

At the time I purchased this club, my clubhead speed was 108-110 mph, which called for a 10° loft. Now it’s more in the 110-113 mph range which calls for somewhere between 9.0° and 9.75°.

As far as lie angle goes, it’s relatively unimportant unless you have a very high handle or low handle at impact and are catching shots noticeably off the heel or the toe. Or if you dramatically cut down the length of the driver or add length to the driver. Otherwise, it’s pretty much okay to keep the lie angle between 57° to 58°.

SHAFT AND LENGTH (UST VTS Silver 65X, 45-1/8” long)


If you really want to take a step into the right direction of discovering what shaft is best for you, you need to start focusing on the shaft bend profile and stop thinking about what the shaft labels say and what they measure on frequency machines. You will find that you will stop thinking of shafts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but more along the lines of what shafts fit your swing

I was fortunate to get lucky as I came across the UST Mamiya VTS shaft by talking to Director of R&D, Michael Guerrette about these shafts. One thing I found was that from a flex perspective, I favored more X-Stiff shafts. But, I was running into a problem where X-Stiff shafts tend to be too boardy and Stiff flex shafts tend to launch too high and spin too much.

I was then told about these shafts which were designed with a lot more torque. In the end, I came away with a winner. My guess is that these shafts are less stiff towards the butt section while being stiffer at the tip section. So, they don’t feel boardy and they don’t spin like a top.

Still, get to learn about shaft bend profiles and how the stiffness of the shaft along different locations of the shaft can affect how the ball flies. There are other parts to understand as well, like the importance of the balance point of the shaft.

I’ve discussed driver shaft lengths in a previous post and I’m a shade over 6’3” tall and use a 45-1/8” shaft. Bubba Watson uses a 44-3/4” driver. So if you are shorter than me, in all likelihood you will be better off with a driver under 45 inches long.


All of these facets of the driver are important, although I would rate swingweight the least important. Why? Because measuring the MOI of the entire club (not just the clubhead) does what swingweight was supposed to do. It just does a much better job of it.

Swingweight is supposed to be a measurement and formula used to measure what the heft of the club will feel like when you are swinging it. Thus, swingweight matching was designed to get each club in the bag to the same swingweight so each club will ‘feel’ the same when the golfer swings it.

The problem is that swingweight didn’t account for factors quite accurately enough and that’s where MOI comes in. The proper MOI will allow a golfer to reduce their face contact dispersion.


With the driver, I was able to reduce the face contact dispersion quite a bit. But, not nearly as much as I could with the 3-wood, hybrid and irons. That’s because the driver is longer and lighter and swung at a higher rate of speed, so control becomes more difficult. I would label MOI fitting as ‘important’ with the driver because it certainly helps and the driver is usually pricey, so it’s better for a golfer to get it right the first time instead of having to pay around with it, looking for the perfect match when all the golfer had to do is find their optimal MOI.

Static weight helps influence the clubhead speed a golfer can generate. Because I can more easily generate clubhead speed than your average golfer, I tend to favor a higher MOI and this tends to allow for a heavier static weight.

The thing golfers need to understand with drivers, is that all of the components matter to some degree. I would highly recommend getting the weight of a driver head. If you have an OEM head, you may want to e-mail the OEM and ask them how much, in grams, the driver head weighs. Mainly because most people do not find their optimal driver with a ‘stock shaft’ and wind up buying a custom shaft or an aftermarket shaft. With that, you need to find your optimal MOI and see what shafts work well, from a weight perspective, with the driver head.


I may wind up going with a lower lofted head as my clubhead speed increases. Furthermore, I may experiment with a lighter shaft with a similar bend profile to see if I can keep the MOI the same (2,825 kg/cm2), but make the static weight lighter than 321 grams in order to help increase swing speed while still being able to control the golf club.

Up Next – The 3-wood


No comments: